Thursday, May 31, 2007
Welcome Home!

I've been scarce around here lately, and that's about to become the rule rather than the exception. While our kids back in Texas have been busy saying goodbye and sending them on their way, our middle daughter, Leslie, her husband Jeremy and their 9-month old son, Landon arrived back home, in western PA, yesterday. Jeremy drove a 26 foot truck, with a car behind across country, unloaded it, then went to the airport to pick up the rest of his little family. Landon was carried into our home, and tucked into bed at about midnight last night, after a very long day in airports.

He looks like the Aflac baby. Baby duck hair, blonde, that sticks straight up in all directions, with enough baby fat everywhere that you just want to grab hold of him and not let go. Then he smiles this little smile, with two little teeth just barely showing, and it cements the deal - "let the spoiling begin". Landon has the extreme blessing of having both sets of grandparents within five miles of him. Oh Jeremy and Leslie, are you in for a ride!

Every single thing this little family owns is in a box, not necessarily labeled with what's inside, and we begin this morning to find order amongst chaos. This morning, right after a stop for Brueggers Bagels, with cream cheese & chives, and good strong coffee, we're heading over.

We'll be there for the next three to ninety-nine days, however long it takes, til the place looks and feels like home, and they can find the dishes, baby food and the bills that always make the trip with you. Should be great blogging fodder, soon as I get back home to tell you about it.

Soon as they get settled we have the free garage sale and several graduation parties to attend. I'm home a whole week after that, before we head to Colorado for two weeks of visiting a grandmother / mother-in-love, then my father, then my mother and brothers, then head over the mountain to attend Mandy's wedding, then more time with my mother and brothers, then finally crawl home around the end of June.

The free garage sale is strong in the makings; the basement redo is in full swing. The car is driveable again, if still sporting a dent here and there. The major yardwork of the season is in, and there are flowers planted just about everywhere I could find a spot of dirt.

Don't want anyone thinking we're goofing off around here. I'm thinking something profound about how we celebrate the Fourth of July?

Back in a bit!


  posted at 6:24 AM

Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Fragrance of Him Everywhere
A few years ago we put up a white picket fence around our backyard. A year or so later a particular corner was just crying out for a lilac bush to be planted there. I imagined it eventually towering over the pickets, the limbs bent over with the weight of the soft purple flowers.

It took two years for the plant to produce any blooms, but I still remember the excitement when I began to see funny looking buds in early spring. The two plants are now big and busy, at least seven feet tall, covered with heavy flowers. Just seeing the blossoms through the back door tickles me because I know what they smell like, even when their fragrance doesn't come through the glass.

This morning I took time to cut just two of the limbs, bringing them into the kitchen, trimming them and placing them in a vase to go on the kitchen table. As I got busy with chores around the house, I headed out to the garage. Coming back inside the house, as I walked up the basement steps, the fragrance was in the air. Heavenly. There's nothing that quite compares to freshly cut lilacs, unless it's peonies or roses. I thought of how my husband will enjoy the smell, when he arrives home tonight and comes up those same stairs, at the end of a workday. I wish I could store this smell somewhere, to pull it out and enjoy it next January when it's cold and snowy and my lilac bushes are bare of any leaves, let alone blossoms.

I wonder is this what Paul meant? Is it something like the fragrance that hit my nose when I walked into my house, when God hears me speaking his Word over a situation, or to someone who's struggling, or lonely, or lost and needing to find their way again? Or when I cry out when the someone who's lonely or lost or struggling is me? Or just praising him when I'm up early with a cup of coffee and my Bible?

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ, and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." 2 Corinthians 2:17

Surely it must be something like the summer smell of lilac bushes, heavy with blossoms. Surely.

  posted at 9:13 AM

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Applying to the Geek Squad
My laptop will celebrate it's first birthday in about two weeks. When I saw that some of the letters were wearing thin on the keyboard, I didn't really care too much. I've been typing since I was 15, and never, ever look at the keys. However, wearing the letters off did make me stop to think about how much time I've spent pecking away in the last 360 or so days....THAT is food for thought! Stewardship of time, does not eat the bread of idleness, looks well to the ways of her household, etc.

As more and more of the letters wore completely off, I began to realize if any family member used the computer, they might not even be able to type. Not everyone took Typing 1 and 2 and 3..... I decided to see if I could order a new keyboard. For a desktop model that's no big deal. I wasn't sure about a laptop. Sure enough, when I phoned Dell, some nice man told me - no problem, for $12.95, plus shipping and handling and I'm not sure what else, with a grand total of $21.95 it would arrive at my home in a matter of days, with all the tools and instructions included.

It arrived yesterday. There was some black plastic thing that looked somewhat like a pick-up stick and something like a crochet hook. No instructions. At all. I took the black stick and began to shove it down in the keyboard of the laptop. As letter after letter began to flip off, I decided I better investigate before I destroyed the entire computer. Going online, while the computer was still functioning somewhat, I was able to download instructions like "How to remove cover", "How to remove keyboard", which was just a little bit scary. I seriously cannot screw in a lightbulb or the water hose; I don't know why, but I'm not the least bit mechanical. Being married to an engineer, it's not usually a problem. Don just fixes, repairs, and puts together everything around here.

Not being able to see the keys wasn't a big deal, but when I tried to fix it the first go 'round, I made it worse. The button that makes a space went flying. Emails from me looked something like this:


I decided to give repairing the Cost Over $1,000 Laptop a whirl, even though I truly could not screw in the $10 water hose over the weekend, a sure sign that we human beings are a shaky lot at best.

Here's what it looked like after step One and Two-

Even after I put it all back together, I had little confidence it would do anything when I started it up, and actually hit keys. Guess what?! I feel like Gomer Pile, yelling, "Serprize, Serprize!" It worked.

I'm so giddy, I don't know whether to apply at Best Buy or the nearest hardware store.... Still, if I wear the letters off this keyboard before June 1, 2008 someone needs to take it away for good!


  posted at 9:40 PM

Monday, May 21, 2007
Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
I thought I'd give an update, for those of you who are reading along, with some following suit at home too, since a bunch of comments were along the lines of, "let's go Bev, I'll jump in too!" I can just see the garages and basements getting uncluttered across America.

Four days ago, we began this massive overhaul. I dragged three pieces of exercise equipment up the driveway, next to the curb, right about when people would start returning home from their workday. I took a piece of carboard, a big black marker and wrote FREE on it. When Don came home from work, he got so inspired he dragged the extra mower out of the shed; the one that was about half-dead, but he kept it for when the other one might not be working. He agreed, since it's been three years and that hasn't happened, we could likely get rid of it. I left to go to an evening meeting. When I got home he told me the mower lasted 15 minutes before some man, who does lawn work for a living, came to the door and asked if the mower was really free. Yep, free, help yourself. There's now extra room in the shed.

The exercise equipment took a bit longer. I really began to think we'd have to put it out for the trashman, but when the morning commute began some lady stopped and shoved and yanked and pulled on the exercise bike, til she got it wedged in her back seat. I went up to brush my teeth, make beds, etc. and when I came down, not only were the other two pieces gone, they took my sign!

Thank the Lord! Some people just can't resist, if it's marked Free to Good Home!

I planned to use the sign again. Next time I'll write everything's free except the sign.

So the basement looks worse than before, because I started making piles. There is still a treadmill and a cross-training ski thing. Our son-in-love, Jeremy is taking the ski thing. The other I'm hoping to convince someone to take home. It's monstrously heavy. I won't be dragging it up any driveway to a curbside.

The room is almost cleaned out - ready to paint!

Which leads to the next thing - Friday I mailed out 57 invitations to the Second Annual FREE Garage Sale, on June 12, 6-9 pm, here at my house. The rules are - bring all your stuff and a dish of food to share, we'll eat all over the house, then everyone grabs a box or bag, and heads down to the basement and garage. Nothing is marked with a price. No monies are exchanged - just take whatever you want. Or take nothing. Everything that isn't claimed, except for a litter of kittens, is left behind, and I call the truck for the local homeless shelter. They come pick it all up the next day. I figure with 57 invitations we should have 30-40, and it'll be a blast. Last year I gave away a rabbit fur coat, an oak pedestal table, and all sorts of other stuff. I got several decor items, and cleaned out a bunch of space. There were 10 of us last time, so this should be wild and fun. Setting a date, and sending invitations will keep me on task. No backing out now!

The beginning of my pile is on the pooltable. The table and chairs you see are next to be dragged to the curb, with a new FREE sign put beside them.

Don is having trouble parting company with the stuffed fish. There's also a smoothie maker, a bread machine, a waffle iron, a crockpot, a pair of shoes, exercise clothes, CD's up there. More to come! Much more.

Today I plan to paint the exercise craft room whatever neutral color I have on hand. With about 25 cans of paint in various colors sitting around, I plan to dump, mix, etc. til I come up with something. No way am I spending more money on paint. The next step is to make a clean spot to start putting away things, before I really start to purge. I've priced a chair for the room, a photo printer (for my scrapbooks) and later today, after I clean up a bit, hope to head down to the local Target and office store to look at various desks. I'd like something in black or white with enough surface space to sew or scrapbook. Also several shelves to hold supplies. The TV stand will get a coat of black paint, and possibly some shelves put inside it to hold fabric or paper, i.e., craft supplies.

I'm getting rid of the wreaths that we put on every window of the house at Christmas. Also the Fish Pillow, which Don pointed out would go nicely with our Lake House someday (NO way!). I warned him it would look worse before it got better, and he pointed out that it is apparently right on schedule, since it sort of looks like a bomb went off.

He asked what this whole redo is going to cost, and could I do it for under $100, to which I sweetly replied no, but for under $500. I'm planning to take down all the sports memorabilia, paint right over the wallpaper, bottom half of the rec room walls will be a darker neutral, top half will be light, with something inbetween (details of that to be worked out later). I plan to print out family photos in black and white or sepia, put them all in black frames, and do a Pottery Barn look. Paint the wooden stairs going up to the main level in a charcoal, with two stripes on them. I've kept decorating files for years, so these ideas were pulled from there.

Addison's quilt is looking much more quiltish, the layers are together, and it's about half quilted. I'll make more progress on it this Wednesday when I take a day off to quilt with my Sew and Sow's. (Sew fabric, Sow the Word). And eat lunch and talk and giggle, but that would be too long of a name. The dining room still looks a mess, maybe worse since there's now thread all over the floor too. Thank you God for a patient husband, who doesn't have a messy bone in his body, and loves me through these messes I make.

In the meantime, we also landscaped the yard this weekend, weeded, transplanted perennials, and hired two teenagers to help us spread 8 yards of mushroom manure. Yeah, it was a blast. It's such physically hard work, after we each took very long showers, and I washed my hair three times for good measure, we headed to Texas Roadhouse and devoured steaks. I'm not sure I moved last night I slept so hard.

Tomorrow is all about planting the annuals in the flowerbeds, and then taking some time to relax with a book and a glass of sweet tea. I finished Marcia Ramsland's Simplify Your Life, and have now started her second book, Simplify Your Time. It's more about dealing with things like Saying No, Too Much Time on the Computer, Overscheduling, How to Choose a Calendar, etc. Her third book, Simplify Your Space, is due out this fall, and while I will buy it, by then I plan to have my space in pretty good shape. I'd love to have just a few things to tend to, rather than this major overhaul.

So that's what we're up to - I'm off to the basement, outdoors, shopping, etc. BTW, our wrecked car should be ready this Thursday, just in time to leave for three days of camping over Memorial Day weekend. Time flies when you're having fun! At this rate, it'll be Friday before I know it. Leslie (our middle daughter) and her family move back here next week and I'd like to be much further along in this process by then. Have a great week out there everybody.


  posted at 8:21 AM

Thursday, May 17, 2007
Discipline and De-accumulating
The Rec Room, full of unused stuff, esp the stuffed fish!

If you come here now and then, you likely already know I'm pretty much redoing my life. In all areas. You might also know I buy a lot of books, and am on a book-fast til September 1, at least. I'm wading through some on my shelves; they have a lot of different titles, but basically they all speak to getting your act together, something I've realized I desperately need.

I started with Restoring Order to Your Home, by Vicki Norris. She's cute as can be, but the book was rather dull, much like what I've read in the past that didn't fix the problem. Her goal was to help me "organize my life". Been there, done that.

Unfortunately it goes deeper than that. It's a matter of the heart, and like most sins that plague us, it's a matter of discipline. I've realized I have a tendency to be lazy, and/or undisciplined at times. I've been living life out of balance. Too much time spent here, while neglecting the basics over there. While I might look busy to the casual observer, I'm busy doing what I want to do, not necessarily what needs to be done, or should be done, or should have been done a month ago, or last summer. At night, after fussing with something that wasn't the best use of my time, at 5:30 p.m. I tell my husband I've "been busy all day so can we go out to eat?" I can take a quick look around and see excess and/or lack of discipline in most corners of our home. Simply put, my life is not simple, serene or balanced. Do I dare say ungodly? Poor stewardship? Ouch.

Richard Foster, in his book, Celebration of Discipline, tells us Simplicity is something that happens inside, to the heart, and the results will show on the outside, in lifestyle. I'm beginning to think all the organizing books I've read in the past were trying to fix the outside, when that wasn't the problem. I was the problem. My heart was is the problem.

He says, "our need for security has led us to an insane attachment to things. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like. Conforming to a sick society is to be sick. God intends that we should have adequate material provision. Scripture declares consistently and forcefully that the creation is good and to be enjoyed. We're not to denounce possessions, but have a right perspective of them." It's only by cultivating simplicity at the heart of all that is me, that I'm free to receive God's gifts, knowing they're not mine to keep, but rather to be freely shared with others. Not hoarded in my storage room or closets.

Foster gives ten principles for an outward expression of simplicity.

#1 Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
#2 Reject anything that produces an addiction in you.
#3 Develop a habit of giving things away. He calls this "de-accumulate".
#4 Remember - timesaving devices almost never save time (appliances come to mind).
#5 Learn to enjoy things without owning them. (public parks, libraries, etc.)
#6 Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
#7 Watch out for "buy now, pay later." Why make payments on stained carpet?
#8 Make honesty and integrity the distinguishing characteristics of your speech. Say it. Mean it.
#9 Reject anything that breeeds the oppression of others.
#10 Shun anything that distracts you from your main goal.

Foster's book was such a great place to start (thank you Sarah for the suggestion). I've had it sitting on my shelf for years, and never picked it up. I'll spend more time in it's pages. It's not a fast read.

I'm now reading Simplify Your Life, by Marcia Ramsland. She's a Christian Professional Organizer, and her focus is right on. She begins by sharing, "He's a God of order, the One who gave creative order to the universe, and He desires order in our lives." She points out that "organizing is ONE of the things you do to simplify." It's not the end-all. I can organize all the luggage in the basement, stack it up according to color and size, or I can go through the luggage and give away or throw out what we don't really use, then store the rest. That's simplifying, then organizing. The next time we travel I won't have to move all the luggage we never use to get to the three pieces we consistently take with us.

I'm learning what I long for is not organization, it's not even simplicity. It's the serenity that lives within when priorities are right, and days flows out of them. I've worked through most of Marcia's book, and here's what I've accomplished. I set up a POC by the kitchen phone - Personal Organizing Center, which is a fancy name for where the mail, bills, doctor appt. reminders, etc. go; I've come up with 31 days of menus, enough to last through summer, and make meal-planning quick and easy (I can't tell you what a time-saver this will be); I made a schedule for housecleaning to keep this place clean, but not take too much time, and chose days for errands, shopping, girlfriend time, yardwork, and projects.

The far end of the storage room, full of keepsakes, papers, paint, etc. etc. etc. I re-dragged out all the Christmas stuff so I can go through it and give away at least half of it. Too much!

Where the Christmas stuff goes, our pantry, and a gift wrap center. A mess!

Today is Thursday - Project Day! I've been waiting several weeks to get to this point. I used to think if you took a stroll through our home, you'd call it clean, relatively neat and pretty organized. That was before I took these photos. The top two floors look good, the basement? Goodness gracious! Organized stuff is still clutter, even if it's all neatly labeled and filed., and ours is not even that right now. Saving every box you receive, even if they're all stacked inside each other, and nicely shelved, is still not necessary, or maybe even normal. I've written out a project list so many times, and never gotten very far. I think with this game plan there's hope. Today's project is actually a Large One, according to Marcia. The entire basement. The storage room, the exercise room and the rec room. I'm dragging out all the exercise equipment, none of which we use, and putting it by the curb with a free sign on it (everyone knows you can't sell exercise equipment!), and that will become my craft/scrapbook area. Those items are currently scattered all over the house. Then I'm taking down all the sports memorbilia from our son's high school years, storing what I think he'd like to keep, and tossing the rest. The storage room alone is huge - probably 15 x 20, lined with shelves that are full to the brim, and they have to be gone through, one by one. I'm giving myself the entire summer to accomplish all this, but when I'm done it should be not only organized, but simple to find anything, and I'll feel alot more serene when I'm down there.

My basic plan - cover the pool table with everything we don't need, use, want. Take a pile to the Ebay place here in town, and use that money to buy whatever I need for the craftroom. Make a pile for the trash every week til I'm finished down there. Then the rest will go to my "Second Annual Free Garage Sale", an event where all my girlfriends bring their unwanted items and a salad to share, we have lunch, then head down to the basement with shopping bags and boxes. Take home whatever you want, leave the rest and I'll call the truck for the local homeless shelter to pick up the rest. The last one was a blast, and it's a great way to trade trash and treasure.

The unused exercise room - all the equipment is out the door, and I'm hoping to turn this into a dandy craft room, where my sewing and scrapbook stuff will live.

Where my scrapbook stuff is living right now, at the end of the laundry room. I truly have an entire standing 5-shelf unit in the basement full of photos. I can't wait to sort those! There's also sewing stuff here.

For Sarah, peek-preview of Miss Addison's quilt. Pieced, ready to be sandwiched and quilted, a nametag added, then shipped to her. Lots of pink for the little lady.

Sewing here is great til it's time to have someone over for dinner. This won't do!

Progress report to follow in a week or so. Til then, if you can't find me, it's likely I'm down in the basement, up to my eyebrows in keepsakes, junk, etc. Serenity is bound to be at the bottom of the pile, and I plan to dig til I find it.


  posted at 8:19 AM

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
My Oh My, A Meme....
I'm not even going to try to tell you who tagged me for what, my sister Barb explained how complicated that was. There are several going around, asking for various numbers of random or secret or odd facts about good ole me. I'm pretty forthright, like Barb is, so it's going to take some head scratching. The fact of the matter is, I'm weary of seeing my bashed up car every time I open this blog, so if nothing else, it'll push the sad photos down the page a bit.

Here goes:

#1 I was pigeon-toed growing up, and had to wear horrible saddle oxfords to school, with bobby socks. Trust me, I was way too skinny and funny looking to carry it off well. If I also happened to let my sister trim my bangs, it made me look like a sad poster child.

#2 I answered an altar call when I was 11 years old. Thought that did it. I'm glad I didn't die since I'm still not sure, but there definitely was no fruit showing on the tree of my life. When I was 25, I got introduced to the whole concept of lordship over my life, and it's been quite the ride since then. I'm certainly not sinless now, but I'm sure I'm saved.

#3 We didn't have a lot of toys when we were growing up, so each was very special. I got a Barbie when I was in 3rd grade, she had black bobbed hair, and white pearl earrings, and it was the most exciting gift of my childhood. My mother replaced her on my 50th birthday. I'll have this one when I'm 99.

#4 I hit someone's car in a grocery parking lot when I first started driving. I don't think, looking back, that it dented it that much, but I still feel terrible that I left. Sixteen year old drivers aren't very brave, or at least I wasn't. Paying the fine would have caused less pain than feeling guilty all this time.

#5 Growing up, I never gave a thought to someday getting married and having children. Yet I married at 19, and had my first child just shy of 21. Our third was born when I was 28. I cannot imagine doing anything more fulfilling than being a wife and mother and grandmother.

#6 I'm not moody, ever. If I'm unhappy I can tell you why, and most of the time I'm just happy. I think that may come with being a middle child.

#7 I burn bread almost every single time I make it in any form, leave the oven on after I use it, and my husband knows this. He's used to scraping off the black parts on his garlic toast, and checks the oven for me every night. If I'm ever on my own, I need to only be allowed to use a microwave, or I might burn the house down.

So there you have it - if you want to jump into this meme, or these memes, pick your number, and post away. Tag if you'd like. I'm skipping that part since it's just too complicated for me.


  posted at 1:58 PM

Saturday, May 12, 2007
Lalalalalala Have a Nice Day Why I Married This Man.....

Updated with lovely technicolor photos.

It defies a title. It defies thoughtful writing. It actually defies explanation.

I wrecked our car.

Two days ago was not a banner day, and I started yesterday, determined to do it differently. My desk was cleared, all the bills were paid and filed away. The house was cleaned. Phone calls made, etc. I left mid-day with a file folder full of errands (yes a file folder) and started the afternoon with devotions and taco salad at Wendys. After several hours of a delightful array of stops here and there, which included the quilt shop, the nursery, picking up a birthday gift, I headed to my last stop. The local grocery.

Dairy Bar is not really a grocery store - more of a where everyone goes to pick up milk and three other items you need for fixing dinner, and are willing to pay more for, to avoid the crowds at the real grocery store. It's always crowded, but in a friendly we all live in this neighborhood sort of way. Dairy Bar has been there for more than 100 years, literally, with a nice remodeling or two along the way. Dairy Bar is where you see everyone.

After buying my three items, I backed out of the parking lot, or attempted to. After waiting for all the other cars to back out, I finally decided to back out the other direction, and go around the congested parking lot. As I swung around the empty, open side of the lot, with some nice New Agey jazz playing, I sort of mentally drifted to Lala Land. I turned my front left tire to go around a corner of the lot, where nobody else was. The loud bang that sounded something like a shotgun going off, then the hissing sounds inside my car, my watch flying off my arm and landing in the floor board and my thumb hurting like a son of a gun told me something was amiss. The fact that there was a light pole inches outside my window moved to the front of my brain. I stopped, turned off the car, realized I could no longer open my driver's door, and climbed across my car to the other side, and got out the passenger's door. That's never a good sign, when you can't get out the car through the same door you got in.

I stood there looking at the car, shocked that it had come to rest on a light pole that I had absolutely not seen minutes before. My tire was now sticking out at a very weird angle, there were metal parts of the underside of my car resting on the ground, with all sorts of liquids oozing out onto the ground. Not good.

I called my husband, who had just returned from a three day trip out of state. When he answered, "Hello Beautiful", I said, 'Hello. It's not good. I'm fine, but it's not good. I just ran into a light pole in the Dairy Bar parking lot, there are metal pieces hanging out from under the car, and there are liquids pouring onto the ground. It's not good." After some conversation back and forth, as to how the light pole could have struck our car, going at all of 15 mph, we discussed the fun process we'd now embark upon - call the insurance people, the tow truck, the police.

When he pulled up, about 30 minutes later, I could tell by the look on his face that he didn't even want to look at it. He walked over to me and the car, looked it over and under and sideways. Didn't say a word. I said, "I'm sorry." He said, "these things happen. I know the car has a blind spot there right in front of the steering wheel. I'm glad you're okay."

After another pleasant hour spent watching our Ten Minutes Ago Truly Did Not Have A Scratch On It Beautiful Vehicle get strapped and nudged and hauled up on the bed of a big tow truck, talking to two policemen who verified our car had taken the brundt of the contact, and the light pole was intact, while the entire town drove in and out of the parking lot to buy their brats and coleslaw or bread and milk, and yes my pride is now at a healthy level again, chatting with the insurance company and a friendly claims adjuster named Chris, moving all the flats of plants I'd purchased, my bag of quilting fabric, the groceries, and the various sundry items out of the car that I would need for the next two weeks while our car is being put back together again, we finally finished with it all, and climbed into his vehicle, the one that used to be all orderly and neat and was now stuffed to the gills with all my shopping purchases, coupons, water bottles, etc.

We began to pull out of the Dairy Bar parking lot, and just down the road, he said to me. "I guess we should go eat somewhere. Where would you like to go?" We were supposed to go work out, and have dinner at home, while watching Survivor on Tivo. He'd been eating in restaurants all week while on the road. I told him, "I don't deserve it, but could you please take me somewhere for mexican food and a margarita?" He did, and over dinner he prayed, "Lord, thank you that Bev is okay. Thank you for reminders that things are just things."

I have been driving for 36 years, have never had an accident. I've driven in snow, ice, pouring rain, heavy traffic. I don't even know that I've had a really close call. Somehow I managed to tear up our car on a light pole, in a parking lot, with no other cars or traffic or weather conditions involved. Instead of praying, "God, preserve me from this crazy woman, give me the patience to be married to her for another 30+ years, and keep me from saying what I'm thinking about this whole episode", that's what he prayed. I looked up at him, over my super combination, and said, "it was really a dumb thing to do. I'm sorry." He said, "I've done dumb things too. It's just a car."

That's why I married this man. Thank you, Lord, for the reminder.

  posted at 9:46 AM

Thursday, May 10, 2007
Take Heart!
The day started with sleeping til I woke up, to the sun streaming in the window, and various pets nudging me to get up and get going. Feed me! Let me out! It held all sorts of promise of unfolding in that lazy/wonderful sort of way. Waffles and the newspaper, Starbucks coffee, time spent on the deck with a book eating lunch, serenaded by the screech of hungry baby birds.

So how did weariness, discouragement seep in? Why, at the end of the day, am I sitting here feeling a bit beat up? I could give you the list, Barb's grandson has a doctor's appointment tomorrow to check out some symptoms of concern; a day spent paying bills is never fun; add in a word wrongly spoken (God, will I ever learn?), being defensive over something small ('love is not easily offended..."); giving advice too quickly, a bit of this and that causing concern, or discouragement, or frustration. Sometimes it was the rest of the world, sometimes I was my own worst enemy. Either way, at some point in the day, morning sunshine was hard to recall.

Oh, what fragile creatures we are! And how gracious is He towards us. Sometimes it takes so little to throw us off kilter. To make us lose perspective - how blessed I am, how small are my trials, how much I am loved. How easily I start looking around rather than up. How quickly I forget that, not only did 'Mama tell us we'd have days like this', He did too.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Days like this, I tend to think one of God's best gifts to us is bedtime. Climbing into bed, laying my head down on my pillow and closing my eyes to this day. Turning loose of the day's failures, the 'work of my hands' that ended less than wonderful, in spite of giving it my best shot. He also told us this:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

So I don't know how your day went, or maybe the past few, but for me it was one of those days when bedtime is a welcome relief. The chance to try it again tomorrow? Grace I don't deserve, but sure am grateful for. If you're thinking I'm writing your journal entry, instead of my own, then join me in getting a good night's sleep, starting tomorrow with a prayer of thankfulness for fresh starts, day after day.

  posted at 8:39 PM

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Opening the Photo Album
We've been home a week now, the floors are mopped, vacuumed, the potties scrubbed, so we're back in the swing of things pretty much. The bills aren't completely paid from last payday, and we get paid again in two days, but I did take care of paying the utilities online, so the light's will stay on at least! So - I thought I'd post a few lot of the photos from our Texas trip last week. Some of these were shown on Sarah's blog last week, so if you're bored, feel free to move on. Some of our family and friends only read my little blog, and I wanted them to see our sweet family.

Chris, Sarah and Miss Addison. The boys were busy climbing rocks.

Dan and Janae (L), with our adopted family members, Kristen and Daniel (R). We're pretty sure they should be at all our family reunions, because we're all crazy about them! That they agree to go out to eat with all of us tells us they either like us too, or are gluttons for punishment.

I don't know if I've ever met anyone who loves babies as much as Janae does.

Don, Leslie with Landon, Jeremy and Bev. We're looking forward to them moving back home the end of this month. Landon will have both sets of grandparents, so there should be some serious spoiling going on!

Landon's babyfat rolls are adorable, when he smiles his whole face lights up, but my very favorite thing about him at this stage: his baby duck hair that sticks straight up. This was his first cupcake ever.

Miss Addison, deciding what she thinks of frosting. Love that smooshed face!

Grayson, alias Frito Bandito, and Uncle D. I believe his Daddy, Chris came up with the face art. Not exactly what his mommy had in mind, but his uncle seems to appreciate it.

Is this not the most precious photo ever? Naptime at the park, Daddy and baby. I'm pretty sure Leslie will be framing this one. The blanket they're sleeping on is my specialty, an idea passed down by my mother-in-love. A bluejean blanket I sew, from all their old bluejeans. This one was made from jeans that belonged to Leslie and Jeremy when they were in high school. The one from my husband's jeans is always in the back of our car. Each couple has one of their own.

We're all excited at the prospect of a future plumber in the family.....

Dan and I pretending to be tree huggers at Lake Palestine. This photo is to prove to skeptical friends and family, who question why we're retiring there. Texas DOES have big hardwood trees. We figure this one was more than 11 feet around, since our fingers barely touched.

Well, this is the backyard of what we were calling our "imaginary house" last week. We came upon the house of our retirement dreams while we were at the lake. It dropped $50,000 in price, and consequently sold the next day. I still figure this is what our backyard will look like, and someone else is living there, taking care of it for us. I've made this my computer wallpaper so I can see it every day, just imagining - that cup of coffee Don and I have together, our first morning of retirement, looking on this view, what that will feel like. I don't want to miss a day of where we are right now, especially with Leslie, Jeremy and Landon moving back here in about three weeks. Still, it's okay to start praying ahead about our life in the next stage. When we go back there for Thanksgiving with the kids this November, we plan to meet with a realtor we found, a man named Pug, who sounded adorable on the phone. How can you not like someone with a name like that and a southern drawl to go with it? Maybe we'll find the spot then. I know God's busy picking out just the right one for us. I gave Pug the list of our requirements, and told him - just about as important as being right on the lake was one big tree in the backyard to hold a treehouse for all those grandbabies when they get a bit bigger. Don't you just love the idea of cousins, laying in sleeping bags, under the stars, listening to crickets and frogs?

Last, we've been home for a whole week, so we're off again soon. The next trip is with our beloved camper, three nights in the woods of PA over Memorial Day. How I love our little camper. Then June starts with the wedding of one of my dear friend's daughters, on my birthday. How fun is that - blacktie dinner on my bday? I told Leslie, that same week, I'd be her 'Dobbie the House Elf', getting them settled into their new place. It's a bit hard to unpack with an 8 month old baby 'helping'. Then Don and I are taking Leslie with us to visit her 94 year old grandmother, on her Dad's side, in Colorado. They'll fly home, and I'll continue out west for Barb's daughter's wedding, with my mom and brother and his wife; then back down the mountain to spend some time with my other two brothers, then drive east til Colorado ends, slip into Kansas to watch my 82 year old dad play golf, and let him take me out to dinner at the club afterwards. June is going to be a bit of a blur. It sounds like such fun, getting to see my entire family in one trip!

God is so good, He tells us he came that we may have life and have it in abundance. I don't think that means the stuff at Walmart or the mall; rather it's the stuff of family, friends, treehouses, the song of crickets, and an assurance that we are loved and needed by those around us. I'm so excited about all this summer holds. Hope you all have lots of plans brewing too.


  posted at 6:30 PM

Sunday, May 06, 2007
Sampler of Seven
DJ at Chocoholic tagged me for this meme. I've haven't done a meme in a coon's age (and it was worth it, just getting to say that, since all our kids think I tend to talk in ancient slang sayings a high percentage of the time). What's not to love about a post that doesn't have to flow, be profound, have great quotes, etc.?

So here goes:

#1 I talk to myself a lot of the time. I like to think everyone else does too, but my family teases me about it, so maybe it's just me wandering down the grocery aisles having a running conversation? If I'm paying bills, it's a veritable smorgasbord of chatter, sometimes with several of us piping in. Trying to figure out the instructions to put something together - mercy, but it gets loud!

#2 I'm strong, but not very brave. I can generally endure whatever life throws at me, sometimes with grace, or at least faith, only falling apart after the crisis is over, but put a grasshopper in front of me and I freeze. Any beetle, large spiders, chickens, rabbits, horses, lizards - they all semi-terrify me. I am seeing, as I get older, that I'm getting over some of this. I can touch a moth now, and if I ever am able to pick up a lizard I'll be throwing a party for myself. Things that could never really harm me make my pulse race; flying across the country, the dark, being alone - that stuff doesn't phase me. God can cover that stuff, but he can't make a lizard unlizardy. I'm determined to eventually be able to hold one in my hand...

#3 I don't really care for chocolate and really dislike the dark stuff. I do like things made with chocolate like brownies, or german chocolate cake. If the dessert table has chocolate and anything else as the choices, I'll choose the latter. Unless there's a cold glass of milk to wash it down. My husband likes chocolate enough for both of us. My son, Dan is right there with me. He likes it less than I do. But he and I can do some damage to cheesecake! (Strawberries on mine please).

#4 I'd have 3+ dogs and 7+ cats if my husband would let me. He won't. I've had a cat for the last 36 years, and sleep better at night if my current feline, Miah, is curled up in bed next to me. She's my living teddy bear. I've never owned a pet that slept outdoors, there's no way that would happen. They LIVE with us. The dog even has his own bedroom, and goes in there everynight at bedtime. Yes, as a matter of fact, our house IS covered in pet hair.

#5 I'm a very organized person, pretty efficient. I'm learning organized clutter is still clutter, and relationships are more important than efficiency. When I die, I don't want them standing around at the visitation saying, "man, was that Bev organized or what?!" I'd rather they say I was a barrel of fun, had a big heart for others, loved the Lord, and not in that order. That doesn't necessarily lend itself to having the neatest house on the block, or always being on time. And that's quite okay. So I'm in the process of tossing out the clutter a bit, and investing in relationships a lot. Which means I'm not on time as much as I used to be. I'm okay with that. My hairdresser isn't so much.

#6 When I'm happy, it's hard for me to sleep in, even if I'm really tired. I wake up, excited over all the day holds, and just can't stay in bed. I love to wake up with the sun streaming across the bedroom, through the slats of the blinds on the window. The last thing I do at night, after I turn off the light, is open the blinds so I can be greeted with the morning sun. (Sounds a bit like a Beatles song, doesn't it?)

#7 I know God had purpose in making all the seasons, that there's a time for the earth (and us) to rest. I know there's beauty in mounds of snow covering everything. When the hardwood trees' leaves start turning, it's glorious to behold. But this time of year, when you can see life bursting out all around you, when the breeze carries the smell of roses or the neighbor's grill cooking away, watching birds busy at nestbuilding, hearing the kids outside playing on the jungle gyms or someone's motorcycle roaring up the street, and feeling the grass between your toes right after you've mowed it, then tasting a glass of cold lemonaide, or watermelon, or brats cooked on the grill, ice cream from the stand that is only open 6 months out of the year, it's hard not to be crazy about that. I know He's here through all the seasons, I just am more aware of him this time of year. Oh how I love Spring!

So the rule of this meme is to tag seven; hmmmmm. How 'bout Sandy at Because Nice Matters, Susie at Pink Carnation in Bloom (she's adorable), Mayhem & Miracles, Diane, Sandra at SAHM, Dianne at Unfinished Work, and Clemntine at What's Up Buttercup. I'm not leaving them a comment, telling them they've been tagged, because they'll maybe eventually come over here and see for themselves, and if they don't then they don't need the pressure of one more thing to do. If anyone else wants to jump in and do this, feel free. I'm all about feeling free lately.

Happy Sunday everyone, spend some time outdoors if you're able. You'll sleep better tonight. And before you turn out the lights, open the blinds. Great way to start tomorrow, with the sun streaming across the sheets.


  posted at 8:49 AM

Friday, May 04, 2007
Serenely All Out of Whack
It's one of those times, when I close my eyes, I can't completely remember the layout of my house. That would be because I haven't been in it much lately. Since March 24, when we left for our cruise, I've been home exactly 17 days. Gone 21. So I'm home, barely, sort of, in a very upheaved way.

So - quick recap: Texas was FABULOUS. Miss Addison's birthday bash was everything and more. We just won't talk about how many cupcakes I ate. I don't even like cupcakes, but when you're tired, sugar calls your name. More photos of that later - they're too cute to not post. (The birthday, not me eating cupcakes.)

We didn't land in bluebonnets for the family photo but everyone showed up for church, and we headed for the outdoor fountain afterwards. Great photos that I can't wait to frame, and will likely take two years to do so.

We put over 1000 miles on the rental car in 6 days while there, leaving a plethera of bug goo on the front bumper when we returned it. The men went away for an overnight fishing trip, and we drove all over creation while we were there. Or at least Don did, I just rode shotgun. I'll figure out the metroplex some other trip.

The weather was glorious, it felt like the middle of Pennsylvania summer, and when we arrived home my hummingbirds had returned, bringing spring with them. Gloriously green grass, clematis is going crazy, oh happy day. I'm a three season girl, not really finding much use for winter. Next week I get to plant flowers til the cows come home, dig in my herb garden, and drag out the patio furniture. Burgers on the grill, lemonaide and watermelon - it just doesn't get better than that.

On the last day of our trip, we took an impromptu side trip to eastern Texas, Lake Palestine specifically. I'm told it's Pales Teen if you're a native, and I am, but still didn't know that. I was giving it the Bible pronunciation. So we spent a good part of the day looking around, chose our dream home that we can't buy yet, and made The Decision - that's where we are retiring, in a year or so. Maybe two, hopefully less. Just 15 minutes from Tyler, Texas - the rose capitol of the US. I get to be sort of neighbors with Toni at A Broad in Athens (Athens, Texas). We've talked of downsizing for years (our home is about 3500 sq ft), and within 10 minutes of looking at this house, had made plans to covert the garage to a large master bedroom, remove walls to enlarge the great room and dining room to seat 12 for dinner, add a new sunporch, a two tier deck, and a 3 car garage. Have to have room for the family and yet to be conceived grandbabies, and the rest of our family to visit us, so downsizing isn't likely after all. Oh, and a treehouse the kids can all sleep in, after they cook weiners and smores in the fire pit. Have to have that. And since the yard is so big, might as well get two new hairy dogs to go with it. You can train two as easily as one, and since my idea of entertaining pets is saying goodmorning and goodnight, they can keep each other company. There are apparently rare occurrences of alligators in the lake so cats will likely be indoor pets! I know the rest of the US talks about us, but we Texas natives are a bit weird about the state, and I can't tell you how my heart is singing to know I get to move back there again.

I have two more sessions in our church bookstore, today and Monday, to train the new manager, a badly needed hair cut and color, a luncheon to throw to tell me goodbye and the new manager hello, a church dinner to attend, then I'm all about getting this house in shape, planting some flowers, mucking out a bit.

I'm also behind 492 blog posts but who's counting. Next week I should get a bit more caught up, but there's not a lot of time for much content right now.

In the meantime, a couple quick photos of our family photo shoot, sans bluebonnets.

This is the one we'll frame, all of us looking in relatively the same direction.

This is what it looked like for much of the shoot - babies everywhere, men giving directions, and you'll note Dan and Janae, on the far right, just kept looking straight ahead with that smile fixed, in case everyone else cooperated all at the same time. Well trained they are.

Last note - even Sarah told me she was proud of me, when we flew home Tuesday evening, bills, laundry, pet hair, yucky fridge food, I got up and went quilting for the day Wednesday with my Sew and Sows - the house is a bit of a fright, but my priorities - they're doing nicely, thank you.

That serene life I'm pursuing? Just around the corner.


  posted at 8:41 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

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